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Proposed Rule

Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and South Atlantic; Atlantic Coastal Migratory Pelagic Fishery; Atlantic Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery; and South Atlantic Snapper-Grouper Fishery; Control Date

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AGENCY:

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION:

Advanced notice of proposed rulemaking; consideration of a control date.

SUMMARY:

This proposed rule announces the establishment of a control date of June 15, 2016. The South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) may use this control date if it decides to create restrictions limiting participation in the exclusive economic zone for the Federal charter vessel/headboat (for-hire) component of the recreational sectors of the coastal migratory pelagics fishery in the Atlantic, dolphin and wahoo fishery in the Atlantic, and snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic. Anyone obtaining a Federal for-hire permit for these recreational sectors after the control date will not be assured of future access should a management regime that limits participation in the sector be prepared and implemented. This announcement is intended, in part, to promote awareness of the potential eligibility criteria for future access so as to discourage speculative entry into the Federal for-hire component of the recreational sectors of the Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or the South Atlantic snapper-grouper fisheries, while the Council and NMFS consider whether and how access to these recreational sector components should be managed. NMFS invites comments on the establishment of this control date.

DATES:

Written comments must be received by October 27, 2016.

ADDRESSES:

You may submit comments identified by “NOAA-NMFS-2016-0121” by either of the following methods:

  • Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/​#!docketDetail;​D=​NOAA-NMFS-2016-0121, click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
  • Mail: Submit written comments to Mary Janine Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NMFS. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. NMFS will accept anonymous comments (enter “N/A” in the required fields if you wish to remain anonymous).

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Mary Janine Vara, NMFS Southeast Regional Office, telephone: 727-824-5305, or email: mary.vara@noaa.gov.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

The coastal migratory pelagics fishery in the Atlantic is managed under the Fishery Management Plan for Coastal Migratory Pelagic Resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Region (CMP FMP). The dolphin and wahoo fishery in the Atlantic is managed under the FMP for the Dolphin and Wahoo Fishery off the Atlantic States (Dolphin and Wahoo FMP). The snapper-grouper fishery in the South Atlantic is managed under the FMP for the Snapper-Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region (Snapper-Grouper FMP). The CMP FMP was prepared jointly by the Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils. The Dolphin and Wahoo and Snapper-Grouper FMPs were prepared by the Council. The FMPs are implemented by NMFS under the authority of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act) through regulations at 50 CFR part 622.Start Printed Page 66245

The Council voted at the June 2016 meeting to establish a control date of June 15, 2016, for the Federal for-hire component of the recreational sectors of the Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, and South Atlantic snapper-grouper fisheries. The Federal charter vessel/headboat permit for these recreational for-hire components is currently open access, available to anyone with a valid vessel registration. The control date enables the Council to inform current and potential participants that it is considering whether to create restrictions that limit fishery participation in the Federal for-hire component of the recreational sectors for Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, and South Atlantic snapper-grouper.

This proposed rule informs current and potential fishery participants in the Federal for-hire component of the recreational sectors for Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, and South Atlantic snapper-grouper that begin participating after June 15, 2016, they may not be ensured participation under future management of these fisheries. If the Council decides to amend the FMPs to restrict participation in the Federal for-hire component of the recreational sectors of the Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper fisheries in relation to this control date, an analysis of the specific administrative, biological, economic, and social effects will be prepared at that time.

Publication of the control date in the Federal Register informs participants of the Council's considerations, and gives notice to anyone obtaining a Federal for-hire permit for the Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper recreational sectors after the control date that they would not be assured of future access to the recreational sector components should management changes be implemented that would restrict participation. Implementation of any such management changes by the Council would require preparation of amendments to the respective FMPs and publication of a notice of availability and proposed rule in the Federal Register with public comment periods, and if approved by the Secretary of Commerce, issuance of a final rule.

Fishermen are not guaranteed future participation in a fishery, sector, or component within a sector regardless of when they obtained their permits or their level of participation in the fishery, sector, or component within a sector before or after the control date under consideration. The Council subsequently may choose a different control date or they may choose different management approaches without using a control date. The Council also may choose to take no further action to control entry or access to the Federal for-hire component of the recreational sectors of the Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper fisheries, in which case the control date may be rescinded.

This notification also gives the public notice that interested participants should locate and preserve records that substantiate and verify their participation in the Federal for-hire component of the recreational sectors of the Atlantic coastal migratory pelagics, Atlantic dolphin and wahoo, or South Atlantic snapper-grouper fisheries.

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Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq.

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Dated: September 20, 2016.

Samuel D. Rauch III,

Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine Fisheries Service.

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[FR Doc. 2016-23226 Filed 9-26-16; 8:45 am]

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